Suburban Permaculture 20 miles from Washington DC

Recent Posts

Garage Aquaponics Re-build

Short 30 second video showing how I re-built my Garage Aquaponics system.

Season extension: How to keep your garden going into fall and winter!

Season extension: How to keep your garden going into fall and winter!

So its getting cold outside but you still want to garden.  Use low tunnels to extend your season and grow cold hearty crops all winter. Ever had a winter carrot or kale?  They are amazing!  The cold weather actually concentrates the sugars.  Plus, come spring, whatever stopped growing will all of a sudden explode with life giving you an awesome quick crop when nobody has anything.

Low tunnels are like mini green houses over your garden row to keep the soil warmer so you can keep on growing and enjoying fresh greens into winter.   read more

Hot Composting

Hot Composting

My Hot Composting Pallet System – Compost in 18 days. Mix greens (Nitrogen – fresh Green vegetation or animal manure) and browns (Carbon – Brown leaves, wood shavings / chips). One layer of greens then add a layer of browns, water then repeat until its 4 feet high. let sit for 2 days and it should be at 140F temperature or above then turn it every other day. Turn as is demonstrated in the video. Be very careful and take temperature measurements with a long compost thermometer everyday. If it gets above 150 degrees, turn it. If it gets much hotter it could go anaerobic and start to produce alcohols and then burst into flames with a fire that can not be put out with water. Please be very careful. read more

Suburban Hugelkultur Garden Integrated with Aquaponics

Suburban Hugelkultur Garden Integrated with Aquaponics

My backyard Hugelkultur garden:  What if I told you, that you can make a garden that never needs to be watered for 20 years?  Well this is it.  You bury logs underneath your garden and the wood acts like a sponge and soaks up the water when it rains and stays moist until the next rain.  This slowly breaks down over 20 years and then you have some amazing soil.  The first year is not supposed to be so great as the wood (carbon) steals nitrogen (plant food) from the plants in an effort to compost itself.  I had a great first season but I cheated with Aquaponics water (check out my backyard aquaponics).  When it rains, my nearby Aquaponics system overflows into a ditch which leads to my Hugelkultur. read more

Winter Indoor Aquaponics System

Winter Indoor Aquaponics System

I live in Northern Virginia, so when it starts to freeze outside, I move my fish to my winter garage aquaponics system.  I can do 3 rafts which is about 90 lettuce plants. I don’t heat the garage and it stays above freezing because some heat escapes from my house. The reflective mylar foil sheets reflect the light and get it bouncing all over the plants.

Indoor aquaponics set up. Its about 6 feet long and 4 feet wide not including the fish tank.
Fish Tank. This is a 150 gallon cattle watering tank you can get at farm supply stores

The Winter Quail Condo

The Winter Quail Condo

Some birds fly south for the winter, my quail take a short trip to the garage and spend winter in the Quail Condo.  It’s a 4-tier setup with each level having water, food, dust bath, free choice oyster shell. This was all custom built by me and my laughable carpentry skills!  The garage is unheated but it stays above freezing.

The design starts with the cement mixing tubs which are cheap and easy to get at any big box store.  I fill the tubs with wood shavings and they catch the quail droppings and lock up any smell. About every 2 weeks I slide the tub out, dump in the compost, refill with some wood shavings, so easy!   There are 6 quail (5 females, 1 male) on each level. read more

Backyard Aquaponics

Backyard Aquaponics

This is my backyard Aquaponics setup.   Aquaponics is a growing method in which fish and plants are used to create a natural symbiotic relationship.  The fish create natural fertilizer and the plants uptake those nutrients while at the same time, the plants root’s filter and return fresh water back to the fish like a mini-ecosystem. Pesticides (even organic pesticides) can not be used because they would kill the fish. I wouldn’t put poison on my food anyway. read more

Small Plot Intensive Gardening

Small Plot Intensive Gardening

I turned the lawn in my side yard into productive abundance!   First I removed all the grass by hand with a shovel (that was no joke).  The ground underneath was all crazy think clay with no top soil and no biological life.  I brought in some compost and formed the rows and woodchip walking paths.  I broadforked (14 inch meadow creature – https://meadowcreature.com/broadforks) the rows but the ground was so compacted that I could barely scratch the surface (Frustrating). I decided to plant anyway and put down about 2-3 x 5 gal buckets of compost for each row (20 feet long by 3 feet wide). The walking paths are anywhere from 6 inches to 18 inches wide (the idea being that you can straddle the garden rows without having to step in the beds and everything is so tight that you can actually plant more than if you had a tractor doing this). I had an incredible first season growing a ton of food on some really crappy soil. read more

Raising Quail In The Suburbs

Raising Quail In The Suburbs

Why Quail?  I wanted fresh eggs!  Quail better than chickens? Absolutely!  I’m slightly biased, but here’s why:

They are quiet, really quiet – I live in the suburbs and can’t be upsetting neighbors

They start producing eggs in just 6 weeks vice 6 months for chickens

The eggs are smaller, about 4 Quail eggs for each chicken egg but quail eggs pack more nutrition than chicken eggs (a topic of hot debate!)

They are super docile and will not peck or spur you read more

Quail Tractor

My Backyard Quail Tractor